Summary: This is part five of a seven-part series on Jesus’ disciples and the principles of discipleship. This message focuses on Matthew.
One of the most interesting disciples that I have studied is Matthew or "The Tax Collector" as he is known. Just like the other twelve, Matthew will also prove that God can use anybody that He chooses to. God at times picks people that we are not sure He should pick. When God puts together a team sometimes He puts people on the team that we are not real adjusted to and He has done that with the twelve. All of them have had something unique about them but unlike the fishing brothers and the unknowns and even Judas, Matthew had something that was totally unique about him. He had a label that the others did not have and his label was "Tax Collector". That was an ouch type of label when you lived in that culture during that time. That was not what you wanted to be known as. He is not talked about in most of the scriptures. Even in the book of Acts when they rally around who is left and who stayed faithful to Christ, Matthew is listed there as one who takes the Gospel and continues on following Jesus. Matthew is a different kind of guy. Matthew has some issues. Some of the scholars tell us that being a tax collector, living in that type of life, doing that type of work in this time meant that you were pretty much the low life of society. A lot of the historians title all of the disciples as something different. Peter was "The Magnificent One", Thaddeus was "The Little One", and James and John were "The Sons of Thunder", but when you study Matthew it is interesting that they call him "The Lost Disciple". He was the lost one out of the bunch. He was the one that out of all of them, even Judas, should not have made the cut.
I want us to look in the book of Matthew. It is his self entitled gospel. Look at chapter nine and we will look at how Matthew was called and this encounter that Jesus has with Matthew. One of the purposes that Jesus had was to fulfill the will of the Father and redeem mankind back from the fall, back from sin and to give man hope through salvation that was found in the cross. Another purpose that Jesus had was that he gathered people around him and he was constantly having conversation with people from one city to another and clearing up who God was. During that time they had heard a lot of things about God that were not true. The love of God and the truth of God and the passion of the kingdom have been lost a lot of times through rules and regulations and people were not able to follow the true meaning because the water had been muddied. Jesus was about defining truth and giving people the real picture of truth. There was even one time that Jesus told a group of people that had gathered around Him that He was the truth, the way, the light. He made mention too many people that He was the light of the world and those that sit in darkness would find life if they would look to Him. A lot of times we may get an impression about a person and after meeting that person we discover they are not anything like someone else said they were. Have you ever met someone and got to know them and someone else had a bad read on them or had a bad experience on them and you met them with your guard up a little, but as you get to know them, you think, wow, you are near as bad as they said you were.
Jesus told people that the things they have been told about God are not as bad as they have told you. He looked at the disciples and said if you want to see the Father -- here He is. I am Him. He went about touching people’s lives that way and one of those lives He touched was Matthew the tax collector. In Matthew 9:9, it says, "As Jesus was going down the road, He saw Matthew sitting at his tax collection booth." Matthew lived in Capernaum. It was a very busy city and it had a very busy crossroad and most of the commerce in Galilee would head down that direction. The job of tax collector was horribly disliked by his Jewish country men. They didn’t act right, they took advantage of people, worked on Sundays and they would deal with the people that were Gentiles that you were not suppose to have anything to do with. There were even times that because of business they would have lunches, breakfasts and coffee with those that were not welcome in the Synagogue during that time.